HUMAN DISCOVERY MAGAZINE
Louis (Eunsang) Oh 1992 Born in Iowa City, IA 1999 Moved to Cupertino, CA 2001 Moved to West Chester, PA 2006 Moved to Korea 2013 Graduated from Bugil Academy Global Leader Program 2013 Matriculated at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL 2014 Enlisted in the Republic of Korea Army 2015 Assigned to the ROK-US Combined Forces Command 2016 End Term of Service and Return to Northwestern 2018 Accepted to Medill Accelerated Masterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Program 2019 Graduated with B.S. and M.S. in Journalism
Cover images by Annette Hong and San Lee
4 Tips of the Trade
Louis Oh is a former Sergeant (E-4) in the South Korean (ROK) Army. He served as an English-Korean translator and interpreter in the ROK-US Combined Forces Command, the warfighting headquarters of the S. Korean and American alliance. Through his experience, he picked up on skills he keeps in his arsenal beyond his time in service. Here are four things he learned that could make anyone a better communicator and storyteller.
1. Keep developing your cultural competence.
2. Empathy can win audiences over.
Even as a bilingual Korean-American, I was at times caught off-guard by misaligned cues. It’s a challenge to be familiar with various cultures but there’s another one in knowing how to navigate and mediate between them. The best thing anyone can do is to have the humility to learn, a respect for differences and the curiosity to start conversations. All sorts of people have great stories. It’s a great place to start.
When abroad, speaking the local language, even just a little, can get you major points. That sort of response is an indication that you put people at ease by showing a willingness to play on their home field. This goes beyond language. Even with a common one, an architect and a chef may feel foreign to each other. An empathetic approach to communication can dramatically help overcome this hurdle.
3. Active listening hack: 4. When in doubt, ask. nouns, verbs and intention. If you have ever thought against asking
a question for fear of embarrassment, trust me, things can be worse if you assume wrong. Take a moment to ask if you need to. Thankfully, I’ve never fudged something critical, but the stakes have been high in some cases. In a few, I’m glad I asked for clarification. For storytellers, sometimes it’s not just the risk of being misunderstood but of misrepresenting. For your sake and for those who rely on you, it’s ok to ask.
Interpreters have to take in and remember a lot of information on the job. Great interpretation is not always literal. We learn to pick up on the core essentials, then comprehend the gist before rebuilding each sentence. Reading intention is especially important as it includes context, tone and sometimes observations of aspects like body language. This guides how to fill in the blanks without losing track.
Louis Eunsang Oh
Writer, Strategic Storyteller, Digital Editorial Designer
The 26 y.o. Northwestern-trained talent may be among the hottest young storytelling recruits to any team of writers and designers this year. The rightbrained prospect has displayed growing left-brain adeptness and an exceptional willingness to learn and grow quickly. Take that unfathomable potential and coupled with steadiness under pressure and he may be this seasonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s biggest steal. We take a look at his progression as the young man awaits his entry to the majors.
Company: NeonCRM Location: Chicago, IL Sector: Nonprofit Software Period: July 2017 - Nov. 2017 Position: Digital Marketing Intern Research
h joined a small marketing team that focused on inbound marketing and lead generation in support of sales. It was Oh’s introduction to content marketing and inbound strategy. He became acquainted with SEO, auditing the site’s webpages. He wrote and edited for the blog, user support and other promotional material like e-books. Oh’s role quickly expanded beyond editing content. Interested in the experience of the site, he analyzed competitors and audited the user activity of the website. He designed and wrote copy for the entire ‘Missions’ section. His recommendations for the
web experience directly impacted web activity, contributing to 68.9% YOY growth. He gained familiarity with technical and B2B writing, especially concerning nonprofits and CRM/SaaS. We were impressed with his ability to quickly jump in and execute on copywriting, design, and editorial work. He is a true contributor... Louis became an integral part of our marketing team and executed on tight deadlines, picked up keyword and SEO optimization strategies, and participated in high-level strategy meetings as well. Brendan Noone NeonCRM COO
Company: Idea Booth Location: Chicago, IL Sector: Marketing/Ad Agency Period: Jan 2018 - Aug. 2018 Position: Apprentice (3 mo.) Creative Strategist (5 mo.)
eeking a holistic advertising experience, Oh joined the boutique agency to train under the tutelage of its Creative Lead, Ron Gibori. During the initial three-month internship he learned to pick up voices in his writing as he wrote social copy for brands and ghostwrote thought-leadership content for Gibori. Oh also took initiative to assist the production team and displayed a knack for brand strategy, gaining him an offer to continue working as a contractor. As a strategist, he supported the development of the companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new executive personal branding initiative. He also conducted brand audits,
competitive analysis, trend research and co-drafted creative briefs for clients in private education, dining and entertainment industries. He far exceeded my expectations and grew into a bigger, more important role quickly, professionally, and adeptly. He took on additional responsibilities and tasks that were beyond his skill set, but was willing to quickly learn and complete them nonetheless. His work quality was exceptional. His attitude towards difficult situations and difficult people was impressive and appreciated. Louis will be a pillar of whatever organization of which he chooses to make himself a part. Aaron Webber Jr. Idea Booth, Head Editor
Company: BestReviews Location: San Francisco, CA Sector: Online Publishing Period: Sep. 2018 - Dec. 2018 Position: Product Management Intern
fter more than a year of marketing, Oh wanted to explore something different. He sought an experience where he could put his design-thinking to practice while leveraging media domain knowledge. As a product manager, Oh worked between designers and developers to ensure successful deployment of design iterations and feature deployments. He was also put at the helm of an annual user study, this time to assess the impact of the siteâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new personalized recommendation feature. He designed the study, recruited, screened and interviewed users. At the end of the year, he presented his findings and
recommendations to leadership including the CEO and CCO. He made a direct impact on the iterative development of a media product. Louis was conscientious, productive, and thorough in all of his work. He is detail-oriented and produces highquality work. His verbal and written communication skills are strong. He is also a self-starter and able to take on a variety of tasks with little or no guidance. He worked with our remote engineering team on website improvements and an enhanced experience for the personalized recommendation feature. William Reynolds BestReveiws, Director of PM
Louis Oh is an odd-ball of a Medill graduate. Despite the schoolâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s reputation, he had not planned at all to be a journalist. While the school was suffering in its turn to adapt to changes in the media landscape, Oh pushed at the boundaries of both old and new. Moreover, he caught on to design-thinking, an idea that the school was only just beginning to recognize and comprehend. Led more by curiosity than a program, Oh emerges as a mixture that is eclectic yet perhaps a prototype for the kind of storytelling talent the world could use more of. 10
Foundations from the best
Unexpected as it was, Oh found that, in ways, studying journalism was perfect because it was a kind place for people ravenously curious about nearly everything. It also pushed him out of his comfort zone. At first, interviewing was the most terrifying part, but later it became his favorite. Journalism training at Medill imparted him with these crucial lessons: (1) Words can inspire and
empower but also hurt, exploit and subjugate, so we must be careful and considerate. (2) The difference between good and great storytelling is in the nimble control of information, aka editing. (3) Often, editing strongly benefits from attention to structure, so map out the narrative framework before putting the pieces together. (4) The best interviews are great conversations and great conversations happen from good
Strategic thinking behind content
In addition to the storytelling, Oh also pursued a minor in Business Institutions. It helped him enhance an analytical mindset to complement the synthetical of building narratives. Marketing and strategic communications coursework taught him to see how content can achieve business goals. In his graduate studies, the business aspects of his Media Innovation studies led Oh to traverse the traditional firewall between newsroom and corporate. He learned the difficult and crucial task of developing audiences through content strategy and optimizing media products. He realized that when anyone can play the content game, even great stories with the best intentions need a game plan. 11
questions. (5) Good questions are more likely to spring if you have a plan based on solid research but also the ability to roll with the punches by listening actively and observing.
“I don’t think humanity’s biggest problems will magically be solved by a single gadget or gizmo. Big problems require people to change the way they behave and perceive. That’s why I believed fusing journalism and design-thinking together could be powerful someday.”
The joy of creating and gifts of lateral thinking
Despite Oh’s lifelong interest in new technologies, the two extracurriculars he was most devoted to were radio and print magazine. They became an open canvas for his urge to create something new and have fun with the learning process. At WNUR, Oh co-founded the Korean music program “K-Sound.” At “NU Asian” magazine, he was given creative control to reimagine it, and revive it from the brink of shuttering. At the time, as far as Medill was concerned at the curricular level, radio and editorial design were after-thoughts. Being the nerdy and entrepreneurial guy he was, Oh, along with his like-minded coconspirators, learned by doing and ravenously consuming stellar examples out in the world. They brought their exposure to great work in Asia to the table. Oh, for one, became an avid podcast listener and an insatiable collector of independent magazines. The radio show became a 3-hour
weekly fixture. The magazine printed three issues during Oh’s tenure and bloomed into a vibrant staff of a few dozen. They each also inspired other creators to launch a Chinese radio show and a Latinx publication. Oh had fun and leaves a legacy but each “old-school” experience also inadvertently lent to new-school skills. He learned to write and create for the ear right when podcasts suddenly rocketed towards its Golden Age. Thinking about paper and printing and learning editorial design strongly informed his understanding of UX and UI design on a holistic level. As Gunpei Yokoi, the designer of the Nintendo Game Boy once said, it was “lateral thinking with withered technology.” 12
Design thinking and media innovation
Military service gave Oh a moment to freely entertain curiosities in ways he would never have had time for in school. He turned his attention to design. Like many, he first thought of it as a craft and discipline of applied beauty. But his search led him to the functional, human-side of design and things like Norman doors. A spark lit in his mind and eventually, he discovered “design thinking.” He returned to school eager to take courses at the Segal Design Institute. Post-its, sharpies, cardboard, X-acto knives, Balsamiq, and Invision all became as commonplace as the AP Stylebook, notepad and microphone. Oh aimed to attain the Segal design certificate but instead found a more fitting opportunity, a Master’s specialization in Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship. A fledgling sub-program only in its third year, Oh seized the chance to focus on bringing journalism and design-thinking
together proper. Oh spent a quarter in San Francisco learning from former IDEOers and a Google X executive. Back in Evanston, he spent most of his time at the Knight Lab, Medill’s journalism innovation studio working on design projects. He was involved in the Local News Initiative that brought journalists and engineers together to develop ideas for improving local-level access to community news. He also worked on an independent study project with classmates that attempted to develop a media product based on human-centered design thinking and agile development principles. Oh is among a small cohort uniquely equipped and trained specifically to bridge the worlds of design and journalism.
Finding the info they need shouldn’t freak your users out.
Louis can help you make mundane experiences a little more joyful.
“Louis approached the project from a user-centered experience perspective to create a simple and elegant solution.” – Katie Smith, IMC Engagement Manager Northwestern University
LOUIS Information Design
There’s more to a guy than a page of letter-size paper.
Here’s extra facets to this issue’s main man that often get pushed off to the B-side. Photo by Jennifer An
Stints as an Educator In high school, Oh was program director for a nonprofit that organized civics education events for teens. After high school, he was a TA at SAT prep schools in Seoul. He also worked for an education consultancy where he helped create textbooks and college guides. There he helped juniors and seniors who did not have access to US college counseling at school with their personal statements or finding fitting schools and programs. Later in Chicago, he tutored underprivileged kids at the Chinese Mutual Aid Association. It was eye-opening and humbling working with students with a wide variety of struggles and goals. Newsroom Intern Oh had two brief internships in news. The first was as a production assistant and assistant writer for the foreign desk at SBS-CNBC. He wrote monitoring briefs for daytime programming and wrote for the foreign news brief corner of a morning financial news show. He also was an assistant editor intern at Groove Korea, an English magazine for the expats. He edited stories for three issues, supported reporters (translating, fixing), wrote adverts and reported on the Arts & Entertainment. Some of it was fun but he realized the typical newsroom might not be for him. 16
Bare.Seoul: A Beautiful Failure Not wanting to be idle in his free time in the military, Oh gathered a small team of friends to work on an ambitious project. Inspired by outstanding indie magazines and frustrated by the backwards conditions of online Korean media, they envisioned a digital magazine that offered visually compelling stories about the humanity and culture of Seoul. Ultimately, their idea failed to become reality save for one timely, illustrative story about gentrification. However, Oh learned immensely from this ostensible failure. He picked up web and UX design as well as editorial and art direction. He also learned a lot about cities and urban issues. Let’s Actually Make a Podcast Many have surely said something to the effect of, “We should just record our conversations and make a podcast.” Not nearly as many do. After a few years of radio producing and audio storytelling coursework, Oh and his friends did. With his K-Sound co-founder Danny and K-hip-hop blogger friend Shaina, they started the “Three Letter Acronym” podcast to formalize their banter about the odd goings-on and phenomena of the exploding Korean music world. They produced a season of 20 episodes for the hell of it and had fun every minute. 17
Louis the CES Booth Guy As a child, Oh loved to flip through magazines like Stuff and Popular Science. He was fascinated by all the cool new technology. It was a longheld wish of his to visit CES one day. Early 2018, an alumnus asked him to help his startup run their CES booth. Since then, Oh visited Las Vegas for the convention twice. His favorites were not the big boys like Sony or Samsung but problem-oriented products like spongy banana-shaped baby thermometers or an interactive e-banking-enabled smart piggy bank that teaches children basic healthy financial habits. The World Through a Lens Cinephile... is probably a bit much but Oh would consider him a movie nerd. He loves moviegoing and probably reads, watches and listens to reviews and essays about cinema as much if not more than the actual films. Wanting to learn to replicate things he sees, he played around with cameras since he was a teen and explores gimbals, drones and even 35mm film in his free time and on travels. In whatever bag he carries heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s likely to be carrying some sort of camera equipment. The following are some of the photos and stills of videos he has taken.
HUMAN DISCOVERY MAGAZINE
No. 73 | Louis Oh Something more traditional? Email: email@example.com Linked In: /in/louis-eunsang-oh www.louisoh.com Note on Printing: This magazine is sized 4.25 x 5.5, or 1/4 Letter size paper! If you print true-to-size for 4 pages per side and select “booklet” for printing settings, you can have your own print-copy of this magazine with just 3 sheets of letter-size paper!
Inspired by these folks: